UFC 165: "Jones vs. Gustafsson" proved to be a memorable night, with Jon Jones squeaking out a decision against Alexander Gustafsson in a five-round war that might have been one of the best title fights in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history.
Gustafsson showed the mixed martial arts (MMA) world that his skills were on par with the champion, cutting him badly over his right eye early on in the fight. Gustafsson also took down "Bones" Jones twice in the opening rounds, with Jones unable to return the favor until later in the match despite multiple attempts.
Jones had Gustafsson badly hurt in the championship rounds and was insanely close to finishing the fight, yet "The Mauler" was able to hang on and showed immense heart all the way to the final horn (watch full video highlights here).
It was an epic and special bout that we were treated to, and since the decision was so close, it has fans and pundits begging for an immediate rematch once both of these warriors are healed.
In the co-main event, Renan Barao successfully defended the interim Bantamweight championship with a knockout for the ages over Eddie Wineland, catching the former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) bantamweight champion with a spinning-kick that landed flush on the Texas-born fighter's face, sending him down to the mat while the Brazilian pounced on him with punches in the second round (watch full video highlights here).
This marks the 31st victory for Barao, who has not lost since 2005, and will look to unify the 135-pound titles with Dominick Cruz, who has been sidelined out of action for two years.
In other pay-per-view (PPV) main card action, Brendan Schaub was able to regain some respect in the MMA hemisphere after his performance at Metamoris and his fight with Lavar Johnson, and even got the last word, submitting Matt Mitrione unconscious with a D'Arce choke in the very first round (watch full video highlights ere).
Schaub moves to 2-2 in his last four bouts with the most impressive win of his career, while Mitrione is now 1-3 in his past four fights.
Before all the action unfolded inside the Octagon, there were promotional appearances to generate awareness for -- an interest in -- a trip back to "Leafs Nation." Fighters said this and that, answering questions galore when all they really wanted to do is be left alone and not be bothered.
MMAmania.com does a pretty good job of passing along all the noteworthy pre- and post-fight comments for each event. But, as we've done before, let us look at the words that left the fighters' mouths before they stepped into the cage on Saturday night.
"I don't take anything personally. I don't reach too much. I don't think too much. I'm going to go in there and shock the world on Saturday. I'm more prepared. I can't wait to get in there. I'm just living the dream right now. I've got a one in a lifetime shot and I'm going to do the best of it."
-- Gustafsson may not have won although he definitely shocked the world last night. He was able to give Jones the fight of his life, dragging the champion into the deep waters and troubling him immensely. Gustafsson gained the respect of everyone in the world with his main event performances and he has thoroughly deserved another shot at the title, either in an immediate rematch or in the near future.
"He said he could beat me any day? Come on, son. I've fought guys who are a lot more technical than Alexander. I'm sure I'll take him down some point in the fight too. "I've been able to study him a lot over the last several months and I realize there's absolutely nothing he does that's like me. We're just completely different. We have the same height and age and that's absolutely it."
-- It is safe to say that even Jones was surprised that Gustafsson was able to not only hang in there with "Bones," but that he almost beat him in the process. Gustafsson was able to strike with Jones, take him down and make it a competitive five-round fight, proving that he was able to emulate champion and even looked to put him in danger a few times. Besides height and age, they both had their moments in the striking department, yet Gustafsson proved that the champion was not that inferior to him at all.
"I think he's going to see my angles and say, 'What the hell is going on?!' He's not going to be able to find me. I'm not concerned at all with his quickness and his speed. I'm going to put my right hand on his chin and he's going to fall down. I know I can defeat him. It's no secret that there's power in my hands. Barao is going to find out first hand."
-- After a decent first round, Wineland found himself in a world of hurt after falling victim to a technical knockout in which Barao hit him with a spinning-sidekick to the face and Wineland was unable to recover. He did clock Barao with a nice right hand; however, apart from that, Barao's quickness and speed was the difference and the Nova Uniao-trained champion was able to adjust to Wineland's power just fine.
"You gotta get the [win] at all costs but you gotta be pretty damn exciting. "To me, I'm comfortable in every place in the Octagon. You wanna take me down and have me work off my back? Great, I'm trained by Rener and Ryron Gracie in jiu-jitsu - jiu-jitsu's my passion, let's do that. I'll even jump the guard on Mitrione. If you wanna keep it on the feet? That's cool, man. I've knocked out better guys."
-- Sometimes fighters pinpoint their words with such accuracy it is almost frightening. Schaub was able to show us how good his grappling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu was, after he clocked Mitrione on the chin and opened up a cut on him in the process. It is also interesting to point out that Schaub scored his first submission win in his 13-fight career.
"Hey Brendan Schaub, you asked to fight me, cool. Them sparse whiskers you grow can't hide that chin son. Don't count on seeing Brendan on the Maury Povich show anytime soon. Because after we fight next month, he'll know exactly who his dad is."
-- We do not want to get into the whole family thing. However, if Mitrione was Schaub's dad, he was that father who falls asleep on the couch well before the main event takes place. The Twitter trash-talk between these two Heavyweight hopefuls hyped up the fight greatly, and sadly for "Meathhead," he did not live up to his words and was out like a light after Schaub was able to submit him with superior submission skills.
For our complete UFC 165: "Jones vs. Gustafsson" story stream click here.